July 12, 2018
Fresh off our whitewater rafting, the crew explores more waterfalls/historical landmarks. We venture to “law rock” a historic place where Viking ground clans would unite for early forms of parliament. Max claims the water from this particular waterfall here as the best drinking water after having taken a sip straight out of the waterfall. Sydney continues to hassle our guide Crazy Swen for more selfies. After exploring the grounds we make our way to a famous geyser that erupts every 5 minutes. Ice cream at the gift shop is a key element for the experience, and Sam says he had the best chocolate chip cookie he’s ever had.
Once returning to base camp the kids took to the obstacle course that was at our campground. Aaron made it through the course in record time, while Shep and Nina raced to the top of the log tower! With all of this World Cup buzz, we decided to get our own match of soccer going. Milly and Peyton put on a soccer clinic as the rest of us just tried to keep up. But the goal that won the game was made by Lauren right between the legs of Wade, the world class goaltender. Moonup was held on the lake by LODs Max and Lily Grace.
It was an early rise for the A1 squad the next day. Our destination today was to visit the “Crazy” horse lady. We got to see some of Iceland’s finest stallions on display. Charlie loved sampling some of their famous homemade bread and cookies. After our visit, we ventured to the coast to find our final camp group. Dinner was lamb lasagna so good Shep had 6 helpings. Carlyle led us all down to the beach to find the rock hot tub after Moonup.
Our final day in Iceland is a sad one. Starting to sink in we are all leaving soon but we still are not short of things to do! We did not get a chance at sea kayaking due to weather, but that didn’t stop us from having a great final day! We visited Reykjavík’s finest wool factory and an art studio specializing in Icelandic knifes and paintings. After a few games in Reykjavík’s botanical gardens, we check into our hostel for some much needed showers before our final banquet! It was such a pleasure having such a polite and hardworking unit with us this session. We look forward to what each and every one of these students will accomplish. Together we had an awesome trip!
Happy and Lillian
July 9, 2018
Since leaving backpacking, we’ve seen more waterfalls and been able to clean ourselves off a little bit. We headed to a local aquatic center and swam for a few hours and took probably too much time showering, though it was much needed. Charlie’s favorite part of the aquatic center was the two hot tubs that made you never want to leave the warm water. There was also an ice bath beside the hot tub that had us all challenging each other to see who could stay in the ice cold water the longest. I believe the winner was Nina with a record of two minutes! When we arrived at our hut last night, Shep got a game of Mafia going, followed by endless card games. Everybody’s stories created of Mafia were always super funny. Peyton taught us all some new card games after that had us captivated for hours.
We woke up lazily this morning after having a fantastic 11 hours of sleep last night. The best part was that we even woke up to pancakes and hot chocolate! Nina was super helpful by heading up the dish crew and making sure our hut was left even cleaner than when we first got there. Today’s activities presented us with a fun challenge. Convincing ourselves to go white water rafting in a country with the word “ice” in its name was tough at first, but the minute we got into the river, our adrenaline started pumping. As we paddled along, our guides filled our time with games and stories. Our first rapid was one of our biggest and Lily Grace took captain of our boat by volunteering to sit in the very front during the rapids. Needless to say, she got the most splashes out of everybody! Max was quick to jump into the furthest back seat in the boat to avoid getting wet. Jokes on him because he ended up being the targeted splash person on the other boat. Everyone was determined to get him into the water, but nobody ever succeeded. Shortly after we got on the river, we stopped to do some cliff jumping. Most people were apprehensive at first, but Sydney wasted no time and was the first person to jump off, despite her fear of heights. Aaron followed in her footsteps and even decided to jump off the cliffs twice! After boarding our boats again, Lauren’s boat decided to play some games during the flat parts of the river. She was chosen to play a trust game that required her to be lowered slowly down to the water by leaning forward while a rope was tied to her back. She was able to lean all the way to water, but on her way back up, her strength gave out and she ended up taking a polar plunge. Happy decided people started to look too warm, so he took it upon himself to sneakily push people out of the boat when they were least expecting it. Wade experienced the first sneak attack and spent some time in the water before he made it a personal mission to return the favor and get Happy in the water.
When we got back to the river base, we headed straight to the sauna at the rafting center. I think Sam would’ve stayed in the sauna all day if we didn’t have other activities on the agenda! He said he deserved to relax and be warm after our long day. Eventually we all got back in our trusty van and Carlyle instigated a singing session to some of all of our favorite songs. We are now spending the night at a campsite filled with fun activities. Milly’s favorite part of the day was the warm grilled cheeses and soup we had for dinner. She said the warm sandwiches tasted even better than she remembered grilled cheeses tasted at home. It was much needed after our cold day on the water! We are resting up for our final few days together. We know our days are coming to an end, so we’re cherishing all of our time together these last few days! We’ll check back in after our final activity of sea kayaking!
Lillian and Happy
“Hi Mom and Dad, Iceland is so beautiful and I can’t believe I’m here! Love and miss you guys” – Nina
“I’m having so much fun in Iceland, can’t wait to tell you about it”- Charlie
“Iceland has been amazing and beautiful. I’ll see you soon guys!”- Sam
“Hey mom and dad. I’m having so much fun here, I loved the backpacking. Love and miss you guys!” -Sydney
“Hey mom and dad! Iceland has been incredible. I am having so much fun. Love and miss y’all! – Lily Grace
“Hi Mom and Dad, Iceland is absolutely incredible and I am having so much fun! From backpacking through beautiful landscapes, to rafting through glacier water, Iceland is an absolute blast. Can’t wait to see you all!” Xoxo, Lauren
“Hi Mom and Dad, Iceland has been so much fun! I love you and miss you.” – Wade
“Hi Mom and Dad, All of our activities have been so much fun. I love Iceland very much. I love you guys and can’t wait to see you again.” – Max
“Hey mom and dad! Iceland is so cool and pretty and I cannot wait to tell you about all of the fun things we have done! Love you and miss you!!!” -Milly
“Hey mom and dad! Iceland is incredible! The views are so amazing! Love and miss you both! Can’t wait to see you!” -Peyton
“Hi Mom and Dad, I’ve been having so much fun in Iceland! Everything here is so beautiful! All of the things we have done, especially backpacking through glaciers and whitewater rafting, have been amazing. I love you guys and can’t wait to see you soon!” -Carlyle
“Hey Mom and Dad, I’m enjoying being in Iceland. I loved the backpacking section and I’m having fun the rest of the trip, especially the rafting. Can’t wait to see you!” -Aaron
“Hey having an awesome time over here. Can’t wait to see y’all again.”-Shep
July 7, 2018
Today marks the first day of Iceland backpacking! Our group could not be more excited to hit the trail. Sydney is fascinated about the active volcanos that our guide Crazy Swen keeps mentioning but he reassures us everyday that it will be years before the next eruption happens. The start of our trek is a 20km hike, but the crew is ready and we have our sandwiches and snacks ready for anything. The first obstacle is the elf forest (volcanic fields shaped like mystical creatures) that stretch for miles. Swen loves to tell stories of his island and is proud of how beautiful the landscape is. His favorite phrase being, “You haven’t seen anything yet”. I can already tell Milly, Sydney, and Lily Grace are going to keep us well documented. Whether it be on their vlog or from all the pictures they take, they’re going to come home with tons of pictures to share. The trail is bringing us all closer together as we trek and get to know the almost stranger beside us. Lauren and Sydney found out they are going to the same school next year! Wade, Max, Charlie, and Aaron all share a mutual interest in the same video games/tv shows. You could swear Shep and Sam were good friends before the trip even started. Day one came with our first river crossing. After a carful demonstration from Swen, we were able to find the safest route across the icy flow. Peyton and I were the first to cross. The river was mighty, but linked together we made it over without a hitch. The cascading waterfall at the end of the flow was all the more reason everyone payed close attention to where we stepped. With everyone across, we trekked across the last of the elf forest and into a flooded valley where we would spend our first night. After some exploration we found a cold pool under a waterfall that was perfect for some swimming! Nina didn’t waste any time and was the first one in. Her shrieks from the icy water made all the boys think twice before jumping in. After everyone got their feet wet, we trekked across some small rivers to find bigger and more majestic waterfalls. After a few hours of swimming and waterfall showers, we made our way back to camp where a smoked salmon pasta was waiting for us. After dinner, the never ending sun made the hills of our private valley glow. Carlyle, Peyton, Milly, Sydney, and Nina found “The Cloud” (a really thick patch of moss on the top of the biggest hill in the valley). The ground was so thick it was fluffier than any mattress anyone of us had ever laid on. It was a unanimous decision to have Moonup on The Cloud. Soon after came some much needed rest because he next day would be our longest hike of the trip!
It was an early rise and a full fledged grind as we dove head first into our biggest challenge as a group thus far. Over the valley and through the elf forest we found ourselves crossing mountains and glaciers of epic proportions. By far the most beautiful scenery we’ve seen. Hiking next to mountains with peaks that pieced the clouds was awe inspiring. Aaron, Wade and Shep lead the pack keeping pace with crazy Swen all the way. Before crossing our next set of rivers, Swen tells us about how lava once flowed freely in this exact same valley we stood. The shiny black stones glistening in the sun are lava glass forged in the glacier from previous eruptions. Each snow patch was carefully tested before walking across and although we had a few slips on the ice, everyone made it out safe and sound. We reached the camp in record time! A famous Iceland lamb soup was just what we needed. It was filled with all the nutrients a Viking needs. Big tent Moonup soon followed with our LODS asking the hard hitting questions. After such a long hike everyone was quick to their tents for a much needed rest. Day 3 was no day to slack off. A full 13km to shake off the sore legs the previous day had brought us. With leftover lamb soup for breakfast to fuel our adventurous souls we trekked on! Today we had many rivers to cross and spent the majority of the day in our river shoes kicking about the black sandy rivers. Aaron (I like to call him the trail blazer) was not going to let anything slow him down. Many times he passed the guide and created his own path. Charlie, Max, Wade, and I talked about our favorite foods to take our minds off the trail and when we ate our sandwiches for lunch, we all tried to pretend it was our favorite meal we were savoring. Once we crossed the black river valley, we made our way back into the mountains. With the change of scenery came new challenges. We knew where we needed to go, but the trail was small and winding. Once we reached our final mountain to cross for the day, we were confronted with a large ice patch that was a slippery slope down to the remaining valley. Nina and Max did something no one would have expected. They jumped into the ice using the slope as a slide. A GAINT ICE SLIDE! It was epic and everyone followed suit. Not only was it a quicker way down, but it was a ton of fun and a great way to end the hike. Camp was set up next to a farm house and dinner for the evening was crazy Swen’s Fourth of July special meat sauce and spaghetti. We made so much of it that it fed everyone AND the rest of the hikers in the valley. The Icelandic way is to make sure no one goes to bed hungry and no one looses weight on this trip. Moonup was accompanied by American musical classics such as American girl, American pie, Born to be an American, and of course, Don’t stop believing. That night we had the famous grilled northern salmon on rice with another big tent Moonup to top off another epic day. Our last day of hiking brought us to our final location before pickup. Everyone was stoked to cross our final river, and everyone was in high spirits. We feasted upon leg of lamb, continuing the tradition of satisfactory meals. Stay tuned for more of this epic Iceland adventure! Happy out.
-Happy and Lillian
July 2, 2018
It’s been a short, but action packed two days here in the amazing country of Iceland! What was once a group of total strangers is now developing into a group of close friends. I’ve loved hearing the chatter in the van and at the campsite about each other’s personalities and interests as each person is eagerly trying to get to know each other. Sydney and Sam have stepped up as leaders these past few days since they have been on a Moondance trip before and Happy and I are thankful for their help with showing everyone the ropes of the trip!
As soon as we left the airport when we got to Iceland, we had a full day of activities. Our first stop was the iconic Blue Lagoon. Lauren and Lily Grace pointed out how beautiful the bright blue hot spring water was and we all agreed the warm water was some much needed pampering after our long flight. Milly led the group to the smoothie bar and then to the mud mask station. Once we were fully content, we left the lagoon and started to do some sightseeing. We went to a lighthouse on the water and Aaron got the group to the top of a small peak to take advantage of the killer view. Once our jet lag caught up to us, we drove to our hostel and ate some pizza before experiencing our first Moonup. We have already learned so much about each other, but I know our relationships are only going to grow and the two weeks continue!
A for today, we had a day full of south coast waterfall visits and exploring the black sand beaches of Iceland. Peyton loved all of the waterfalls, especially the one where you could even walk behind it. I snapped so many pictures of Carlyle at the waterfall because she wanted to make sure she had lots of ways to remember the trip. The other waterfall we went to had an endless amount of steps you had to walk up and our guide told us there were 515 steps to the top. Max was determined to prove him wrong so he counted each step and it ended up being 464 steps. After the waterfall, we went to the most serene spot to eat lunch. It was at the top of a mountain beside a black sand beach. It was amazing how we were both on a beach and surrounded by a frozen glacier at the same time. Shep made everyone laugh by attempting to eat an entire cantaloupe like an apple. He was unsuccessful but at least he got his daily fruit intake. After lunch, we took our van off roading to a lava cave. We went inside of a massive lava cave right on the beach. Our guide Swen pointed out a hole in the rock that looked EXACTLY like Yoda from Starwars and Charlie thought it was so cool. Swen made us all feel sentimental by giving us a pep talk about starting our two week journey of leaving our mark on Iceland.
After the beach we headed to our campsite for the night, but not until after we stopped at a local grocery store to try our first taste of Icelandic candy. Wade swears that the gummy bears in Iceland are way better than the ones he gets in America. During the drive to the campsite, the whole bus was singing the song “Allstar” by Smashmouth and I have a good feeling that song is going to become our group’s theme song. The rest of our night consisted of eating burgers that Nina was so thoughtful by helping the guide cook AND clean! We are heading to bed tonight excited and hopefully rested for the big start of our trekking section tomorrow!
Lillian and Happy
June 30, 2018
Hello Iceland Families!
Your students have landed safely in Reykjavik. We heard from the group leaders this morning, and the trip is off to a great start! We can’t wait to hear more about their adventures.